Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello, my name is Curtis Nalley. I am the Owner and CEO of Lending America. We provide a 0% interest for 12-24 months to help young entrepreneurs make their dreams a reality.
It’s difficult for some entrepreneurs to obtain startup capital through the banks. We help by offering credit repair services, bridge loans, and provide education on sales and how to build your credit.
Our company has been around for about 5 years and we have helped fund billions of dollars to thousands of businesses across the United States. I measure my success based upon how much I loan out my own money per month and currently I’m loaning between $200,000 - $300,000.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
When I started my business, I had 32$ in my pocket. I came from the coaching space and I spoke with people every day who wished they had access to more capital because they needed it to start up their businesses. I could see there was a need and I even experienced it myself first hand. I attempted to lend from the banks for business expenses. I was applying for $20,000 to get a car for my business and the banks denied me based on credit history. I didn’t understand because I could pay for the car ten times over in my bank account, why would they not give me a loan so I could contribute more towards my business?
Now, I could talk to you about ad spending or returns but it’s not necessary for what I do. The truth is, I don’t use ads. My clients recommend my services by word of mouth because my success comes from my client’s success. I pride myself on providing a fair product. This should be accessible to anyone. I repair my client’s credit in order to get them more funding. One of my more popular services is bridge loans. If a client has over 45% debt utilization on their credit cards, I will loan them the appropriate funds and we will continue repairing credit until they are ready for funding. One of my clients was a 27-year-old that came to us who had $28,000 in credit card debt. We bridge loaned him about $10,000 - $12,000 dollars to cover credit card debt. When we went through funding, he ended up getting 197,000 in funding through our process. Our customers are taken care of 100% of the way through our funding process and we do our best to get them the funds they need.
Short term goal would be to fund 100 new businesses a month. Long term goal is to change the face of traditional lending from banks to brokerage companies to internet-based companies.
The best decision I made was realizing that I understood sales better than I understood marketing. It was easier for me to sell an online influencer to give me leads than it was to get leads.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
The original product I sold was someone else’s product because they were doing it better than I was. Over the first year to year progress with my business, I developed a relationship with that fulfillment company and paid them to teach me.
Then when we launched our flagship product we wanted to launch entirely differently. One of the biggest differences was we offered bridge loans and offered our product to systems who required funding for their products.
Describe the process of launching the business.
If you are doing direct lending from business to consumer or business to business depending on the state you do need certain licenses to operate. Lending can be a very financially demanding business. When we began our operations we were small and used syndicators. The syndicator is a term in our business for people who transfer their money to us so we can manage it into loans for others. The legal requirements focus on contracts and the legalities of those contracts but I would not say it is more or less daunting than any other financial industry.
We primarily focus on lines of credit and other forms of loans that offer a period of time (typically over a year) at 0% to our clients. We have an origination fee through our company that is anywhere from 8-10% based on the client file and credit score.
The initial way I started my business was getting leads from a different loan company on a revenue share to sell them over the phone. I provided a product that a usual loan company did not have access to. I funded my business with lines of credit at 0% which is why we provide our clients with the same resource. The hardest part was finding a good lead source without spending thousands and thousands of dollars.
I needed to get ahead and I didn’t have enough money nor did I have a way to get leads. I found a company that sold a different type of loan. I called them on the phone every day for 3 months until the CEO called me back. We worked out a deal where I could buy leads from him. He tested me by sending me leads that were over two years old. I cut him a check for $4,800 a month later and that’s how I started my company.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Connecting with influencers to refer me business and retaining clients through the funding process has been my top priority to attract and keep my customers.
I do a couple of things in particular. One, I connect to someone that has a high-ticket product to sell. That person refers their client database to us because they have a 25k-50k product to sell and the banks won’t lend that kind of capital to just anyone.
Second, I connect to loan brokerage companies and give referral fees to the loan brokerage company that sends deals to me. The reason I do this is that I have a product that not many people have. It’s easier to connect to people that already have a business for me than it is for me to pay a marketing and ad campaign which is difficult to target based on requirements for funding.
Profit margins have increased dramatically by doing less volume and having fewer employees.
The biggest thing about why our product works over anyone else’s is because I believe any human can get funding. As long as a person followed my instructions, I can get them somewhere. I will do whatever is in my power to get my clients a loan. From credit repair to education on credit, or educating them or building them through the process in order to get them more funding. Basically, I do whatever I can to get my clients what they need to succeed.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today we have cut back on the number of loans we are originating but we have maintained the same profit margins from the volume we used to have because now we are not outsourcing to any 3rd party companies.
We don’t use fulfillment companies for 90% of our products. We do most everything in-house so my profit margins have increased dramatically with doing less volume and having fewer employees.
Secondarily over the next year, we are focusing on branding and referral-based traffic over paid advertisements as we like the size we are currently at and we do not want to expand too quickly. We want to expand at a slower pace and the best way to do that is branding myself and organically growing traffic vs ad spending.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Things that I’ve learned? If you get your traffic from referral-based marketing don’t have your sources tied between 1-2 options. Have a diverse set of lead providers and a diverse set of products because there will always be a time in your business you have to run lean.
You can’t run lean without having leads or products to sell them. The best decision I made was understanding that I understood sales better than I understood marketing. It was easier for me to sell an online influencer to give me leads than it was to build a marketing platform in order to get leads. Sales is a skill that is invaluable. It is applicable to every aspect of communication.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I don’t really any tools besides systems made for my space. I mostly use PipeDrive and our CRM for organizing client information.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
10X rule from Grant Cardone which taught me to think bigger and 10X my results.
A Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins.
Money Master the Game by Tony Robbins. Taught me the value of investing.
Most of my upper influences came from mentors of mine like Jaime Cochran. He initially taught me to sell which has been an invaluable skill in my life that has brought me the success I see today.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
My advice to newbies is; Congratulations. Most people never get the courage to take the financial risk to start a business.
Secondarily I would tell them to understand that now they’ve taken the risk to start the business the only way the business should fail is one of two reasons. One, they are regulated out of business. This means it would be impossible for them to provide their service or product any longer. Two, they would die.
Those are the two reasons a business should ever fail. Keep doing it every day. Build a business for 20 years, not for 5.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I’m always looking for talented salespeople, but we are not actively pursuing employees.
Where can we go to learn more?
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